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John Spencer (born November 17, 1946) is the former Mayor of Yonkers, New York (1996–2003). He was the 2006 Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New York and lost to incumbent Democrat Hillary Clinton.

John Spencer
40th Mayor of Yonkers, New York
In office
January 1, 1996 – January 1, 2004
Preceded byTerence M. Zaleski
Succeeded byPhilip A. Amicone
Member of the Yonkers City Council
from the 3rd district
In office
January 1, 1990 – January 1, 1996
Preceded byCharles A. Cola[1]
Succeeded byRichard J. Martinelli[2]
Personal details
Daniel Patrick Spencer

(1946-11-17) November 17, 1946 (age 72)
White Plains, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Eileen Looney
(m. 1971; div. 2003)

Kathy Spring (m. 2003)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1966–1969
RankUS Army O2 shoulderboard rotated.svg First lieutenant
AwardsBronze Star
Combat Infantryman Badge

Early life, military service and educationEdit

Spencer was born in Yonkers, New York, the son of Edward and Ann McGlinchy Spencer. He was adopted and raised by Patrick and Nora Ginnane, who had eight children of their own. His adoptive mother died when he was eight, his adoptive father six years later. His sister Noreen Ginnane raised him.

He attended high school at Sacred Heart High School and after two years at Westchester Community College, he dropped out to join the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He earned an officer's commission as an Infantry Lieutenant and served a tour in Vietnam during 1968 through 1969.[4] He holds the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Bronze Star.[3]

Early careerEdit

Spencer married Eileen Looney in 1971, and the couple went on to have two children.

Spencer worked in construction, real estate property management with Cushman & Wakefield, and as Vice President of Real Estate Management with Bankers Trust Co.

He then entered politics as a member of the Yonkers City Council in 1991. He served 6 years on City Council, with 4 years as Republican Majority Leader.

Spencer also was the founder of Spencer Consulting Group, where he uses his personal experience of overcoming alcoholism to help others defeat their addictions.[5]

Mayor of YonkersEdit

In 1996, John Spencer was sworn in as mayor of Yonkers. The city's finances had been under the oversight of a State Emergency Financial Control Board for more than a decade.[6] Mayor Spencer insisted that the City had met its obligations and called for the removal of the New York State Control Board.

In 1998, control of the city's finances was returned to the city.[7] The City was under a Federal Desegregation Order from a landmark decision of the federal Courts (Judge Sand, c. 1984), and Mayor Spencer had said that it was time to end Federal Control of Housing and Education in the City. Judge Sand agreed and after negotiations gave control back to the City on both issues, thus ending the Federal role in Yonkers. Mayor Spencer presided over development in Yonkers. Retail and housing were built on the downtown waterfront, a new library was completed, along with the Austin Avenue development of Costco, Home Depot, and Stew Leonard's. As part of the New State Control Board leaving, Mayor Spencer also went on to cut the Income Tax Surcharge by 2/3 and cut the Real Estate transfer tax from 3% to 1%, thus forcing the city to raise property taxes to make up the difference.

His mayoral chief of staff Kathy Spring bore him two children before they married in 2003, while Spencer was still married to his first wife; they later had a third. Spencer did not publicly acknowledge the affair until 2002.[3] Spring's annual salary started at $52,000, and increased to $138,000 by the time Spencer left office.[8]

In November 2003, Spencer could not run for re-election as mayor due to the term limits law that he himself championed and then tried to rescind. Mayor Spencer's deputy mayor Phil Amicone sought the office of Mayor with the support of Spencer, and successfully defeated Assemblyman Michael Spano in a Republican primary, and then went on to defeat Democratic candidate Joe Farmer in the general election.

2006 New York Senate raceEdit

In 2005, Spencer announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Hillary Clinton, who was seeking re-election to a second term. Politically, Spencer is opposed to abortion and gun control, and a supporter of tighter border security.[9] His support for the Bush administration and its policies is well known, including but not limited to the war in Iraq.[citation needed]

On August 18, 2005, Spencer gave a radio interview where he said Westchester County, New York District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, another candidate for the Republican nomination, didn't have a "Chinaman's chance" of getting the conservative line. Spencer was asked to apologize for the comment after an outcry from the Asian community that the statement was derogatory.[10] Pirro dropped out of the race in December 2005.

On May 31, 2006, Spencer won the endorsement of the state Republican Party organization but did not achieve the threshold of 75 percent he needed to exclude his rival, former Pentagon aide Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland, from the primary ballot. He received 63 percent, and thus faced McFarland in the September 12, 2006 Republican primary, which he won by a margin of almost two to one.[11] Spencer called on McFarland to step aside after the vote, but McFarland told she had no intention of withdrawing from the race.[12]

In a June 2006 radio ad, Spencer expressed his disappointment in the national Republicans for not helping his Senate campaign.

In his 2006 election campaign, Spencer came out in favor of a New York Court of Appeals decision rejecting the claim of 42 gay and lesbian couples that same-sex marriage as constitutional right. On Kevin McCullough's talk radio program,[13] Spencer said marriage is "between a man and a woman" and that a constitutional amendment is needed to enshrine that.[14]

Clinton spent $36 million for her re-election, more than any other candidate for Senate in the 2006 elections. Polls during the general election campaign generally showed Clinton with a 20-point lead or better over Spencer. On November 7, 2006, Clinton won easily, garnering 67% of the vote to Spencer's 31%.

In 2006, former mayor Spencer was sued in civil court by a former City of Yonkers employee, Joan Gronowski, who later served as a City Council member, who stated that she was told not to engage in political campaign activities while working for the City. Following a jury verdict, a $75,000 judgement against the City was narrowly affirmed in a 3-2 split decision.[15]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c Santora, Marc (October 20, 2006). "Pressing Senate Bid With a Sharp Tongue and Strong Resolve". New York Times. New York. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
  4. ^ Worth, Robert (2000-07-30). "Braveheart of Yonkers". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Golding, Bruce (2006-01-15). "Spencer's quest: U.S. Senate". The Journal News.
  6. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (1988-08-12). "Control Board Clears Some Yonkers Spending". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  7. ^ "Governor Pataki Hails end of Yonkers Financial Control Board". July 9, 1998. Archived from the original on October 3, 2006. Retrieved 2006-04-17.
  8. ^ Golding; et al. "Spencer's Quest". The Yonkers Journal News. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Issues - Spencer for Senate URL accessed 2006-04-17 Archived 2005-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Blain, Glenn (2005-08-18). "Spencer blasted for 'Chinaman' comment". The Journal News. Archived from the original on 2006-01-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ Primary 2006 Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Horrigan, Marie (2006-05-31). "NY Senate: Spencer Wins GOP Nod, But Still Faces Primary". Congressional Quarterly. Archived from the original on 2006-08-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-08-20. Retrieved 2010-12-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "God, Gay Marriage, and John Spencer". The New York Times. 2006-06-21.
  15. ^ Matter of Gronowski v. Spencer. Docket No. 04-2605-Cv, 424 F.3d 285 (2d Cir. 2005)

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Terence M. Zaleski
Mayor of Yonkers
1996 - 2003
Succeeded by
Phil Amicone
Party political offices
Preceded by
Rick Lazio
Republican Nominee for U.S. Senate from New York (Class 1)
Succeeded by
Joseph DioGuardi